Although 2020 has been an extremely tough year for everyone, it has been a very special year for the UAE Team Emirates team and for me.
I joined UAE Team Emirates at the same time as our Tour de France champion, Tadej Pogacar, but this year was my first year as a pro for the team. His exceptional victory at the Tour has given the entire team, especially the youngsters like me, a lot of motivation and confidence.
When we were younger, I raced with Tadej in the juniors, so I’ve known him for a long time and get on with him very well. He has always been a very strong person and rider and I am very proud of what he has achieved.
As a team, we have now won the most important race on the cycling scene. This has lifted the pressure on us and we are now able to race with the freedom of knowing we’re in one of the best cycling teams in the world.
Of course, we want to become No 1 in the world and there may be added pressure in the coming years to defend our Tour de France title, but I am ecstatic of where we currently are. The trust being put in the young riders of our team has been proven by the results we’ve managed to get. I hope to be among those young riders who are enjoying the success, like Tadej, and will work hard to achieve that.
One of the main reasons I joined the team was because of the focus the management staff put on the young riders. Also, being Italian it was nice to have a solid Italian base in the team which helped me to settle in quickly.
Stepping up from the Under-23 competitions to the World Tour, I have seen a big difference in quality and level of competitiveness. I have been able to ask a lot of the more experienced riders in the team for advice and for that I am grateful, even though I’m tasked with working on the front of the peloton a lot of the time and getting a lot of wind in my face!
Since the season was stopped in March because of Covid, I was able to recover properly from a tendonitis in my knee that I was struggling with last winter. During the lockdown, I was able to focus on my recovery and did a lot of indoor training on the cycling programme and team sponsor, Whoosh. I’m very happy the season is now back to some sort of normality and we’re outside on the bike again as I was beginning to feel like a hamster.
Tadej Pogacar wins Tour de France
I will be making my Grand Tour debut at this year’s Vuelta a Espana next week in Spain. It’s my first Grand Tour and I can't wait! I’ve trained hard and will arrive in excellent condition.
My dream for this year would be a stage win but it’s going to be very difficult as we are up against some top competitors. However, I am going to give it my all and feel like a much stronger rider than I was a few months ago.
My biggest career ambition right now is that I hope to see myself doing well in the one-day classics. I was very close to a victory at the Giro dell Appennino where I came second. I hope to see more of those races and of course more podium places.
My favourite race as an Italian is the Giro d’Italia but as a cyclist I prefer the Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands. One day, when I am older, I hope to win the Tour of Italy in front of my family and friends.